LOS ANGELES – Spider-Man has leaped from comic book to record book, becoming the first movie to hit $100 million in its first weekend.
The live-action adaptation starring Tobey Maguire as the Marvel Comics web-slinger shattered box-office records with a $114 million debut, surpassing the previous best of $90.3 million taken in by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone during its first three days last fall.
With $39.3 million on Friday and $43.7 million on Saturday, director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man also beat the single-day record of $33.5 million set by Harry Potter in its second day, according to studio figures Sunday.
"Not in our wildest expectations or dreams" did the filmmakers anticipate such demand for Spider-Man, said Amy Pascal, head of Sony's Columbia Pictures, which released the film. The studio would have been thrilled with a debut in the $70 million to $80 million range, she said.
Playing in 3,615 theaters, Spider-Man averaged $31,535 per location, a new high for films opening in 3,000 or more cinemas, running about $7,000 ahead of the old record held by Harry Potter. Spider-Man also was the fastest movie to reach $100 million, passing Harry Potter and Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, which both took five days to climb to $105 million.
"I don't think there's a distribution record in history that hasn't been shattered," said Jeff Blake, Sony president of worldwide marketing and distribution. "That $100 million opening weekend has always been sort of a great white whale of the movie business. To have Spider-Man capture it is just thrilling."
With few big films opening this past weekend or next, Spider-Man has a fairly wide-open field until the new Star Wars film opens May 16.
This past weekend brought two other modest debuts. Deuces Wild, a street-gang drama starring Matt Dillon, opened at No. 7 with $2.7 million, averaging a weak $1,824 in 1,480 theaters.
Woody Allen's comedy Hollywood Ending tied for 10th place, grossing $2.2 million in 765 theaters for a $2,876 average.
Overall, the top 12 movies grossed $153.3 million, up 54 percent from the same weekend last year, when The Mummy Returns debuted. Spider-Man accounted for nearly three-fourths of revenues among the top 12 films.
Ubiquitous marketing, an audience built up through 40 years of comic readership, solid action and visual effects and a tale of an ordinary, misfit youth helped draw an across-the-board audience to Spider-Man. The crowds were split about 50-50 between men and women and viewers older and younger than 25, Blake said.
"It is a very universal story everybody can relate to," Pascal said. "He's a completely misunderstood guy that nobody recognizes and who just wants to do good. He's not a hero from planet Krypton. He's all of us."
The success of Spider-Man bodes well for Hollywood's overall summer, which is crowded with marquee titles including new Star Wars, Men in Black, Austin Powers, Stuart Little and Spy Kids movies.
Spider-Man also sets a benchmark few films will be able to rival.
"This sets a new gold standard by which the rest of the summer blockbusters are going to be judged," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "Everybody's going to have to try and live up to Spider-Man."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. Spider-Man, $114 million.
2. The Scorpion King, $9.6 million.
3. Changing Lanes, $5.6 million.
4. Murder by Numbers, $3.8 million.
5. The Rookie, $3.3 million.
6. Life or Something Like It, $3.28 million.
7. Deuces Wild, $2.7 million.
8. Ice Age, $2.5 million.
9. Jason X, $2.4 million.
10 (tie). Hollywood Ending, $2.2 million.
10 (tie). Panic Room, $2.2 million.